Netanyahu calls for tougher sanctions on Iran

JERUSALEM, Nov 23 ― Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called today for stronger sanctions on Iran than those imposed this week by the United States, Britain and Canada to try to curb its nuclear ambitions.

“Iran is developing nuclear weapons. If anyone had any doubts, the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) report certainly dispelled them,” Netanyahu told parliament, referring to the UN body’s findings on November 8 that suggested Iran had worked on designing a nuclear bomb.

“It is important to impose sanctions, tough sanctions, on this regime ― even tougher than those that have been imposed over the past few days,” he said, without elaborating on measures he believes should be taken.

On Monday, the United States, Britain and Canada announced new sanctions on Iran’s energy and financial sectors, steps analysts said may raise pressure on Tehran but were unlikely to halt its nuclear programme.

The United States named Iran as an area of “primary money laundering concern”, a step designed to dissuade non-US banks from dealing with it; blacklisted 11 entities suspected of aiding its nuclear programmes; and expanded sanctions to target companies that aid its oil and petrochemical industries.

The United States stopped short, however, of targeting Iran’s central bank, a step that could have cut it off from the global financial system, sent oil prices skyrocketing and jeopardised US and European economic recovery.

In a coordinated action, Britain ordered all British financial institutions to stop doing business with their Iranian counterparts, including the Iranian central bank

Canada said it would ban the export of all goods used in Iran’s petrochemical, oil and gas industry and “block virtually all transactions with Iran”, including with its central bank, with an exception for Iranian-Canadians to send money home.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton telephoned Netanyahu on Monday to brief him on the new sanctions. Like the United States, Israel has said all options, including a military one, are on the table in trying to stop Iran from obtaining nuclear arms.

In a statement issued after his conversation with Clinton, Netanyahu’s office quoted him as saying: “Such sanctions make clear to the Iranians the price (they will pay) will be high if they continue to their nuclear programme.”

Iran says its nuclear programme is peaceful and is aimed at generating electricity. Israel, widely believed to be the Middle East’s only atomic power, has said a nuclear-armed Iran would pose a danger to its existence.

Last week, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak called for “lethal sanctions” against Iran, including steps to halt imports of Iranian oil and exports of refined petroleum to the Islamist Republic.

But he said such moves would require the cooperation of the United States, Europe, India, China and Russia, and he did not believe such a coalition could be formed. ― Reuters



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